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With the Playstation Store I believe you can actually purchase PSN titles from your PC for the PSP (and possibly PS3? I forget). I've googled but I can't quite tell if there's such a service for the Wii U store.

There's a Wii U downloadable title I'd like, as it's on sale, but I don't have a Wii U yet. Is there some way I can purchase the game (even if I have to download it on the title, just "claiming" it would be super) without the console itself?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Currently you can't, Nintendo ties the download with the console, not with the User ID.

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Which also means if you sell the console, the buyer gets your games... – Holger Jan 9 '13 at 13:29
Ug really? Then it's just like the Wii for now... – Ben Brocka Jan 9 '13 at 14:05

Update since the answer has changed. Unlike three years ago, you can now buy titles on Nintendo's website, and they will email you a download code. You can save this code and enter it in on a Wii U console at any time later to download the game. The same system applies to 3DS.

Nintendo Support link on giving games as gifts (though you can also just use the code yourself).

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